As another term comes to a close, I ponder... what is it that keeps me inspired, keeps me engaged? As a choir leader, it might be looked upon as lots of work and not much play. For some this may be true. For this choir leader, the balance is quite different. Having established an administration system that largely runs itself, I get to focus on all the good things!! The people, the music, the community spirit...the magic of the choir!
I have said many times that after long days at school on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, sometimes it is hard to peel myself from the sofa with the material texture imprinted on my face, wipe the drool from my mouth and go back out and "work" some more. I will invariably, and swiftly, follow up with something about why it is so worth it.
The thing is, whilst the choir members will experience and enjoy the benefits of coming out to sing - the hike in energy; the lift in mood; the sense of mild euphoria through the act of group singing; the reduction in stress; the sense of achievement; the social fulfilment; - so does the choir leader...this one at least.
Much scientific research has been done into the actual and real benefits of singing, especially in a choir. I'm not going to cover that in this ramble, but just know that all of these benefits transfer to the person out front in charge of the session as well. I come home energised, uplifted, inspired and buzzing with a wonderful sense of well-being just as I hope my singing family.
There is work to be done, of course. The musical arrangements do take a long time to complete. There is a good deal of musical procrastination that goes into each song or mash up, as well as the actual act of creation. Sometimes they come together quickly, and other times there is a bit more of a battle with myself, but the entire process achieves a sense of not just satisfaction, but a real feeling of anticipation. Anticipation of hearing the new piece sung by the real voices of our choir, and that is exciting.
Then there's "The Process". This is the exciting journey from the town of Partial Deflation through the villages of Utter Confusion and Gentle Optimism and onwards to the final destination of Getting-It-On-Nicely. The cycle of the term is fascinating. The first week back, there are echoes of a triumphant end of term concert, with songs well established in the collective voice and the ring of rapturous applause still lingering on. This is immediately tempered for some with the cold shower of new material, fresh to the eyes and brain, and therefore, inevitably mildly deflating to certain members of the choir.
To others, this fresh-meat is an exciting opportunity to stretch the brain and welcome in new harmonies, lyrics, musical theory and techniques and a definite move in a forwards direction.
In any case, for me the challenge and fun here is to present new tunes in a way that makes everyone feel like they can, as a choir, pull it all together and add another rip-roaring song to our repertoire.
I could mention also the sense of community, of getting to know lots of interesting and slightly bonkers people, the performing and the reaction of audiences, the satisfaction of being able to raise a little money for charity...but I've gone on long enough.
In closing, there isn't a simple answer to why it is all worth it! It just is, and I love it. It is a special and necessary part of my life and I hope to be able to carry on doing it for a very long time.